More personal drama for me this week as Hurricane Rita heads straight for my home towns of Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas. Initial word from my parents a few nights ago was that they were staying as long as the storm was making a path for Galveston. But as the storm took a turn right I got a call from them yesterday morning saying they were on the road to Dallas. But that didn’t mean much… Evacuating is never easy, I’ve done it multiple times myself, and along the Gulf enormous traffic tie-ups are normal. But this time the traffic to get out is worse than usual, because many people who would have ordinarily stayed saw the coverage of the last storm and are hitting the roads. Bad traffic was the entire reason my great-uncle decided to ride out the storm in Gulfport. On the phone with my parents they told me that stop-and-go traffic was keeping anyone from using their air-conditioning, and in Texas that means the heat was so bad people were passing out in their cars. I could hear my grandmother complaining in the backseat as ambulances went by and fuel trucks came out to the highway to service cars running out of gas. The last word is that they made it as far as Lufkin, a 2.5 hour drive that took them all day. Having already lost Gulfport to the winds I’m not keen at all about watching Port Arthur go under water, or Sabine Pass, even though I’ve always known that a bad storm would damage them eventually, considering that they are only a few feet above sea level and the Port Arthur levee can only hold back a seventeen foot surge at best. The Baytown refineries all closed a few days ago, which is unprecedented, and if my father is headed out that probably means that Beaumont’s Exxon-Mobil plant shut down as well.
This was the week of personal notes. We got very nice thanks from Dean Ball and Dan McConnell, rounding out our Wenatchee trip with the promise that another one may come along another time. We also got a complimentary note from some longtime readers and I always enjoy getting those. But my favorite was from an old friend of ours who was inspired by Monday’s strip to send us a long treatise on the joys of Mountain Dew. It was hilarious and I need to find some way to use it so everyone can enjoy.
Our CWAC presentation went off without a hitch, and though the turnout was small as expected the intimate setting made it very conversational and personal. It was a highlight meeting Dean Ball, owner of Galaxy Comics in Wenatchee for 19 years. Dan McConnell and his wife Ann have a country farmhouse in the middle of 13 acres of apple and pear orchards, and the weekend was like being treated to a sunny vacation. I was wrong about apple season, it was a little early for apples, this is actually harvest time for pears. Crates and crates of Anjou pears were going to cold storage where they’ll ripen some before hitting the grocery stores. We came home with a large bag of Boschs, which apparently like to ripen together. A very big thanks to the McConnells for hosting us with homemade apple muffins and a comfortable loft.